Baghdad (Iraqinews.com) – The Islamic State (IS) group is still posing a security threat to civilians and security forces in oil-rich Kirkuk province despite its crushing defeat at the hands of Iraqi troops last year, Kirkuk governor Rakan al-Jabouri was quoted as saying.
In an interview with Alquds Alarabi Newspaper, Jabouri said, “It will not be easy to continue purging the province from IS insurgents, who started to carry out terrorists attacks again civilians and security forces again.”
Jabouri blamed the “rapid liberation” of Kirkuk for the re-emergence of IS group; pointing out that it is impossible to accurately estimate the number of IS militants in the province as many of them had fled to the mountainous areas during the liberation operation of Kirkuk.
Jabouri, on the other hand, praised efforts exerted by the federal government and local authorities to eliminate terrorism in Kirkuk, stressing that Iraq will continue its offensives against the militant group.
Kirkuk officials previously urged reinforcing military troops in the south and west of the province, as the region still has Islamic State members who escaped during liberation of Hawija to remote areas.
In October, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared that Iraqi troops recaptured Hawija, a main town held by Islamic State in the country.
Iraqi forces, backed by a U.S.-led coalition and paramilitary troops, have been fighting since October 2016 to retake territories Islamic State occupied in 2014, managing to retake all havens, most notably the city of Mosul, the group’s previously proclaimed capital.